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D.C. Area Artists Outraged Over Pussy Riot Verdict

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A judge in Moscow sentenced three members of a provocative female punk band to two years in prison today, following a trial seen around the world as an emblem of Russia's intolerance of dissent. A dozen demonstrators, amongst them local artists, rallied outside the Russian embassy in Washington to show solidarity with the band.

The protesters have been gathering outside the embassy for a full week, urging Russia's government to free the band members, who call themselves Pussy Riot. After spending five months in prison, today they were found guilty of hooliganism after performing a song in a Moscow cathedral called "The Punk Prayer." The lyrics call on the Virgin Mary to save Russia from now-President Vladimir Putin.

"My heart goes out to them," says Andrea Collins, a performance artist in the D.C. area and one of the protestors showing support for the band. "They believe completely in what they were doing and they have steadfast resolve, but I know they have to be terrified right now."

A fan of the band's music long before this controversy, Collins calls the women brave for speaking out.

These protesters are not the only ones in Washington condemning the decision. Amnesty International calls it a bitter blow for freedom of expression in the country. And a White House spokesman says President Obama is disappointed by the two-year sentence.

The group says it will continue to protest until the women are freed.

VIDEO: Punk public prayer "Mother of Jesus, Putin banish" - "Pussy Riot" in the Temple


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